SOUTH SIOUX CITY — A group claiming to represent Norm Waitt Sr. YMCA members, volunteers and employees is planning a protest today to demand a change of management at the South Sioux City nonprofit facility.
In a statement released Wednesday, the group said it is planning the protest in the wake of firings, what it calls poor management decisions and “total disregard for the interest of members.”
The event, which is largely organized on a Facebook page, is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. today outside the YMCA, 601 Riverside Drive in South Sioux City.
According to the statement, the disagreement centers around the dismissal of staff members or those who have quit in protest — it alleges more than two dozen, including four in the past week — since the current senior management has taken the reins of the YMCA.
Group spokesman John Paul Engel said he wished the group didn't have to protest, but believes that's the only way its grievances will be heard.
“We really want a change in management of the YMCA and we want the organization to return to its mission of providing a positive, caring environment to promote fitness in the community both in adults and kids,” said Engel, a YMCA member and volunteer.
Norm Waitt Sr. YMCA executive director Kevin Engel-Cartie, who took over in December 2008, acknowledged the nonprofit has lost a few part-time fitness instructors in the past week. He declined to say why they were let go due to concern for their privacy.
He said the YMCA has undergone tremendous growth since moving to its new facility in South Sioux City, tripling its membership, and it is natural that some people will leave after a major leadership change.
Steve Avery, president of the YMCA's board of directors, said the dismissals this week were made according to board policy. Neither he nor Engel-Cartie acknowledged whether the group's allegation that more than two dozen employees were fired or quit was accurate.
He said the board of directors has no plans to fire Engel-Cartie.
“We know (the YMCA) is a community asset and people feel a sense of ownership to it,” said Avery, who said he was “100 percent” in support of Engel-Cartie. “That's great. That's what we want, but we have personnel problems (like the dismissals) from time to time and they have to be solved in a respectful manner.”